Age Progression Photo: Paul Leonard Baker
Chipley, Fla.(CBS/AP) Investigators in Florida are looking into possible connections between the 1987 disappearance of a 3-year-old South Carolina child, Paul Leonard Baker, and the dramatic lost-and-found case of Florida infant Shannon Dedrick, who authorities say was found alive under her babysitter's bed after being missing for five days.
Authorities in both states think the link between the two missing-child cases could be Susan Elizabeth Baker, the babysitter for Shannon Dedrick.
Photo: Shannon Dedrick
According to a case synopsis provided to the Panama City News Herald by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Paul Leonard Baker was living with his father, James, and stepmother, Susan Elizabeth Baker, when the toddler vanished 22 years ago in Beaufort, S.C., never to be seen again.
The couple was arrested in the case and charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature for allegedly beating 3-year-old Paul Baker before he vanished March 5, 1987, according to the documents.
The documents say Susan Baker told police she put the child down for a nap on March 5, 1987 and returned to find him missing. Deputies and police searched the area around their home for several days but found no trace of the little boy.
After the disappearance, the couple's 6-year-old daughter was removed by state social workers who discovered broken bones and sores on her body. In that case, Susan Baker was convicted for beating the girl and sentenced to 10 years in prison for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. That sentence was later suspended after 80 days, according to the documents.
The Bakers were never indicted in the disappearance of 3-year-old Paul Baker.
Now, twenty-two years later, in the Florida panhandle near rural Chipley, Washington County sheriff's authorities say 7-month-old Shannon Dedrick, who was missing for five days, somehow turned up alive and well -- in a box, under a bed in a home where her babysitter lived.
The babysitter, they say, is Susan Elizabeth Baker.
Baker, her husband James, and Shannon Dedrick's mother, Chrystina Lynn Mercer, are under investigation in the case.